May 14, 2001

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

by Anonymous

MONDAY, 14 MAY 2001
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Poem: "Big Rock Candy Mountains," Anonymous.

The Big Rock Candy Mountain

On a summer day in the month of May,
A burly little bum come a hikin',
He was travelin' down the lonesome road,
A-lookin' for his likin'.
He was headed for a land that's far away,
Beside those crystal fountains,
'I'll see you all, this comin' fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.'

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks,
And the little streams of alkyhol
Come a-tricklin' down the rocks.
Where the shacks all have to tip their hats,
And the railroad bulls are blind,
There's a lake of stew, and whiskey, too,
And you can paddle all around 'em in your big canoe,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There's a land that's fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes,
And you sleep out every night.
Where the box cars are all empty
And the sun shines every day,
I'm bound to go, where there ain't no snow,
Where the rain don't fall and the wind don't blow,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin,
And you can bust right out again
As soon as they put you in.
The farmers' trees are full of fruit,
The barns are full of hay,
I'm goin' to stay where you sleep all day,
Where they boiled in oil the inventor of toil,
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

O the buzzin' of the bees
In the cigarette trees,
Round the sodawater fountains,
Near the lemonade springs
Where the whangdoodle signs
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.

It's the birthday of novelist and short story and travel writer Mary Morris, born in Chicago (1947). She's the author of Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone (1988), about a trip she took to Mexico and Central America. "One of the things I really learned was the value of people, the simplicity of friendship. I reorganized my priorities down there. For the Mexicans, friendship, family, children: Those are the things that really matter."

It's the birthday of filmmaker and screenwriter George Lucas, born in Modesto, California (1944). His second film, American Graffiti (1973), is a semi-autobiographical story about American teenage life in the 1960s. He spent four years writing and filming his big hit, the intergalactic swashbuckler Star Wars (1977).

On this day in 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out from St. Louis, up the Missouri river, to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean. They camped in what is now North Dakota, and continued west with the help of an interpreter, Toussaint Charbonneau, who brought his Indian wife, Sacajawea, and their infant son. They reached the mouth of the Columbia River, which now is the border between Washington and Oregon, on November 15, 1805.

On this day in 1796, physician Edward Jenner performed the first successful smallpox vaccination. He inoculated an eight-year-old boy, James Phipps, with fluid taken from a cowpox lesion on the finger of a dairymaid, Sarah Nelmes. Cowpox was a relatively harmless disease, and the boy developed a low-grade fever and a slight lesion. On July 1 he inoculated the boy again, this time with smallpox, and no disease developed.

It's the birthday of the German physicist and instrument maker Gabriel Fahrenheit, born in Danzig, Poland (1686). The Fahrenheit temperature scale is named after him.

On this day in 1607, Captain John Smith founded the first permanent British settlement in the New World, in Jamestown, Virginia. The settlement endured hard times until finally it fell into decay in 1699, when the seat of government moved to the town of Williamsburg.

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